Sign of the Times: Pupie on the town
Yesterday we were on Washington trotting around in the Indian summer conditions late in the day when who came by but none other than Frank “Pupie” Raia. The candidate was heading south toward Pupie HQ and we stopped him and asked to take a picture. The man’s personality is engaging to say the least. Our earlier take on Frank was his surprising strong performance at the POG debate where he spoke passionately about Hoboken and his vision for the town.
Frank was extremely gracious in taking time not only for the photo but also for an impromptu Q&A. Most residents of Hoboken think we’re just a beaten down war horse escaped from a barn, but Frank perhaps recognized our pedigree or maybe he just thinks a horse can vote. The picture doesn’t portray our meeting accurately. Yes, some passersby found it unusual to see a horse taking pictures and stared at Da Horsey but Frank was really the star. More than once residents came over to say hello and he would stop for a few words before returning to answer questions. And he was willing to do all of it on the record.
We covered several issues in our on the street interview and he had a strong perspective on all of it. On how he could apply some innovative ideas to help residents, he cited one twofer example: building senior housing on a parking lot by Church Towers and freeing up apartments there for more Hoboken civil servants. Feasible? Not sure, but it’s one we liked among several he mentioned.
On how to address the budget and it’s 80% built in employee cost, Frank went into several innovative approaches and detailed ways to save money. Questioned on how much savings these ideas could achieve, and if he could do a spreadsheet to help us understand it, he didn’t say he would be willing to go that far for a horse but added he’s willing to do so on behalf of Hoboken. (He was more than willing to discuss the aspects in enough detail to make our head spin.)
His time on the Board of Education also came up and he defended the teacher’s contract by saying arbitration wouldn’t have cost the city less but most likely more. Since we weren’t up on the details of that contract, we mentioned the hard hitting movie, The Cartel and how New Jersey taxpayers are getting creamed every which way. He replied by stating he had acted to introduce ways to bring in more students to reduce the cost per pupil down. Da Horsey begged off after that since we just don’t usually carry a calculator on the everyday saddle.
Last, Frank spoke about City Hall and the ineffectiveness of the town’s officials. He said he had helped Dawn Zimmer when she first ran against Councilman Chris Campos and now she said she didn’t want to accept help from developers. He framed it along the lines of “What am I chopped liver?” but not in those words. He added that her support for him running as Freeholder came late and he didn’t think the lateness of the endorsement was very useful. On the Cammarano debacle and the dividing impact on the town he said, he hadn’t received one phone call from City Hall. Speaking on the question of how to unify the town afterwards he added, “Dawn could have invited me to be Deputy Mayor.” Although we didn’t think that was constitutionally available, the idea of Frank’s contributing to aid the town’s budget problems appears worthy. Da Horsey encouraged him to stay involved no matter the outcome on election day.
We really can’t argue with much of Frank’s many ideas. We may be America’s most beloved horse, but in the end, we’re still a horse.